Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Going Long - The Hard Part

Over the last couple and next few days, I’m spewing out tips on how to set and achieve long term goals by sharing some of the things that I learned last year while I was running and writing, every day. Literally, every day in 2010.

If you missed the last couple days, no worries. You can catch up easy. All we didi was learned how to set non-stupid goals, and what a good plan to accomplish those goals looks like. Go ahead, click the links, read up. We'll just talk amongst ourselves...

... oh man, that's the funniest thing I've ever... Oh, hey! You're back. Cool...

Ok... where are we? Oh yeah...

We have a good goal, and a plan to get us there. Excellent.

I guess we’re done.

Oh, wait... I forgot, we’re human.

As humans, we have a tendency to get distracted by life. We can lose motivation. We can stumble.

Let’s see what we can do to work through this damn humanness.

People like, and, frankly, some of us need, frequent gratification. We aren’t very good at relentless pursuit of anything that’s good for us. We need the occasional spoon full of sugar. Hence...

3) Milestones

Like Reese’s Pieces for E.T., sprinkle a few intermediate goals in your plan. These should be significant accomplishments that show progress toward your goal, not just days on the calendar. For example, for our 5K race goal, a milestone might be reaching an accumulated total of 10 miles for your training, or running 2 miles non-stop, or not missing a scheduled run for 2 weeks.

The best part about having milestones is that they are to be celebrated. Go straight to the pub, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do not even shower. Schedule a massage, or indulge in a pint of Chunky-Monkey.

The particulars of the milestones, and their rewards, don’t matter, except to you. They will help keep you motivated and focused. Pick milestones that you will feel good about reaching and that progressively lead you to your goal, and a reward that you will look forward to, one that will pull you along, as you close in on the milestone.


4) Blab!

Don’t you hate it when you set a goal and you don’t quite accomplish it? Man that’s awful, right? Happens though... all the time. We just lose motivation. Lose focus.

Know what would make it 1000 times worse? What if you told tons of people what your goal was and then you failed? Oh man, that would really suck!

Well, that’s why you tell tons of people what your goal is.

Tell your family, friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, dog, neighbor’s dog, mail carrier, barista, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, MySpace - whoa... you’re still on MySpace? How’s the weather in 2003? - your barber/stylist, the “genius” at the Genius Bar, the cop who pulls you over, the cop who books you, the cop you let’s you out on bail, the dude who bailed you out... geez, tell everyone what your trying to do.

Recruit these people onto your team to keep you accountable, motivated, focused, and energized.

The day I decided to try to run every day, I sent an email to everyone who I thought would know who the email was from, telling them what I was going to try to do. I can't tell you how many times last year someone asked me "Did you get your run in yet?" It was great to know that they were interested and to have their support.

And most importantly, I knew that if I quit, if I missed a day, I would have to explain it, over, and over. And over. And over. And I’ve have to relive that humiliation over, and over, and over.

That, my friends, is motivation.

5) Post your progress

An important part of recruiting your fans is giving them a way to track your progress. It should be easy, and convenient for them to tell that you are, indeed, right on track so they can give you a high-five, or fist bump, or pat on the touche, whichever is appropriate.

And it also needs to be easy and convenient for them to tell if you’ve started to waver, so they can give you a gentle nudge, or a firm talking to, or a kick in the ass, whichever is appropriate.

Me, I started this blog. You can start a blog, too. It's crazy easy. (I use Blogger.)

I remember one day I forgot to include my mileage at the bottom of my blog post. It wasn’t 5 minutes before I got an email, pointing out my error, and making sure I had just forgotten to include it, and not forgotten to run.

You can also do like my friend Rob who put a progress chart on the fridge at home for the whole family to see. Now he’ll get nagged by his kids if he falls behind.

Draw a graph, or running total chart, or United Way style thermometer, anything that makes it obvious where you are, where you should be, and what your goal is. Tape it up somewhere where people will see it. Give them the information they need to support you, and to keep you on track, and they will.

Ok, that's enough for today...more to come... next time I’ll talk about what making your plan work in the real world. Meanwhile, drop a few milestones in your plan, send out that blabbing email, and decide how you’re going to broadcast your progress.

Good running,
Doug